As Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is stalwartly working to save the nation from a probable upheaval of Covid-19 pandemic, a nexus of top military officers under the leadership of Lt. Gen Mahfuzur Rahman, who currently is the Principal Staff Officer at Armed Forces Division is mutely working with multiple agendas that include, disgrace the current Chief of Army Staff Gen Aziz Ahmed, generate total anarchy within the armed forces, push the country towards a major economic crisis and famine during the period of Covid-19 pandemic, and finally overthrow the current government through a bloodless coup and establish a pseudo-military rule.
Gen Mahfuzur enjoys the confidence of Washington and Beijing for years, though he is rumored to have extreme intimacy with the American Central Intelligence Agency. Other members of the nexus are Maj Gen Shafeenul Islam (Director General, Border Guard Bangladesh), Maj Gen. Mohammad Saiful Alam (Director General, DGFI), Lt. Gen Sheikh Mamun Khaled, Lt Gen Nazimuddin (Retired) and a politician named Sheikh Helal. All of them are from Jhenidah Cadet College.
Members of this nexus enjoy support from the American CIA and Chinese MSS.
Armed Forces Division is responsible to manage and work during the situation of natural calamities.
Chinese intelligence agency MSS in a report published on the third week of March has revealed stating, within the first week of May, Covid-19 pandemic will spread throughout Bangladesh and result in a volatile situation, which will force in the declaration of State of Emergency.
With the agenda of cowing-down the current army chief Gen Aziz Ahmed, the nexus of Lt Gen Mahfuz has been systematically disrupting every measure of the government in tacking the Covid-19 situation. This nexus knows, as army already is deployed in the whole country since a couple of weeks back, Gen Aziz will be held responsible for any failure in tackling the challenge posed by the pandemic.
In the meantime, a number of individuals such as Col Shahid Uddin Khan (a retired officer and a coursemate of Gen Aziz, who has been living in the United Kingdom of self-exile since 2018), David Bergman (a British journalist and son in law of Dr. Kamal Hossain, an opposition politician), Tasneem Khalil (a journalist who took asylum in Sweden in 2008), Pinaki Bhattacharya (a physician who took asylum in France) and few more individuals have already aligned themselves with the nexus of Lt Gen Mahfuz and the nexus are playing various roles with the common goal of discrediting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government to the eyes of the people of Bangladesh and the international community.
Sensitive military secrets such as information about army personals being infected with Covid-19 virus or various types of conspiracy theories are being passed to Col Shahid Uddin Khan, David Bergman, Tasneem Khalil and others by the nexus. The recipients are circulating the sensitive information through social media. This nexus of conspirators had earlier circulated a rumor stating Gen Aziz Ahmed had a plan to establish a pseudo-military government by ousting Sheikh Hasina with the support from the United States, China, few local elites and thinktanks. They claim, the Chief of Army Staff, had a plan of creating social disturbance and anarchy in the country thus compelling the Prime Minister in deploying the army, which would bring the entire situation under the grips of the CAS. But though he finally had to step back from this plan, the outbreak of Covid-19 in Bangladesh has opened the prospect to him.
It was earlier reported that civil bureaucrats, politicians, social elites and think tanks had meetings, which were coordinated by CIA and the Chinese MSS, where it was decided to topple the government in exchange for lucrative postings and positions once the pseudo-military government would take overpower. There were indications of a few top police officials joining hands with that government.
There is also rumor about Gen Aziz’s ambition of becoming the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) by bringing in Lt Gen Shafiuddin into the position of the next Chief of Staff.
According to intelligence reports, political forces such as Jatiyo Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Inu) etc., already are secretly maintaining contacts with the nexus of Gen Mahfuz.
Members of this nexus have already held meetings with Barrister Andaleeve Rahman Partho (though he later denied this), Dr. Abdul Moin Khan of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Col (Retired) Oli Ahmed, Dr. Jaforullah Chowdhury of Gono Shasthho, Barrister Moinul Hossain, Dr. Debopriya Bhattacharya and others. Most of these meetings were coordinated by the Commercial Adviser to the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.
Meanwhile, the nexus, through its associates, are maintaining regular contact with Surendra Kumar Sinha, the former Chief Justice of Bangladesh, who now is in Canada. At the instigation from the Gen Mahfuz nexus, London-based Col Shahid Uddin Khan (Retired) has recently has re-activated his social media accounts, launched a YouTube channel and a website, through which he is regularly spreading provocative messages against the government, Security Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Chief of Staff. He has been assured by the nexus of his safe return to Bangladesh and withdrawal of all the criminal charges and convictions, which he and his family members are currently facing, once the situation in Bangladesh goes beyond the control of the government.
Earlier it was reported in the Indian, British and international media about Shahid Uddin Khan’s connections with international terror-don Dawood Ibrahim and according to the Business Standard report quoting IANS (Indo-Asian News Service), the Indian intelligence agencies were investigating the allegations brought against Col Khan.
The nexus of Gen Mahfuz has also hands behind launching of a news portal named Netra News by David Bergman and Tasneem Khalil, which also is rumored to be financed by some anti-government individuals in Bangladesh as well as Col Shahid Uddin Khan (Retired).
The Covid-19 scenario in Bangladesh:
The Covid-19, which is believed to have been spread by the Chinese intelligence has locked over the entire world except China. As the world is struggling in fighting the massive spread of this virus, Chinese policymakers are taking preparations for taking full advantage of the post-Covid situation by enhancing the export of Chinese products. Beijing already has started production of various items in full swing knowing the world will soon start to compete in buying Chinese products, mostly because of price advantage.
In Bangladesh, the number of Covid-19 infected people are on growth, while the country is under lockdown. A prolonged lockdown will ultimately result in acute economic and food crisis, where millions of people from the poor class may resort to street demonstrations, which may ultimately take the anti-government movement.
Although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already allocated relief for the poor class, there are regular allegations of loot of relief materials by leaders and activists of the ruling party. Print and electronic media as well as social media are filled with videos and photographs of such loot, which is generating anger into the minds of the people. Army though is deployed throughout the country, in most cases, they are playing the role of silent spectators, whether it is the case of the loot of relief or people disobeying the lockdown.
Bangladesh would not be pushed towards a possible fatality should there be not any chaotic situation centering declaring lockdown and shutting down commercial activities, and again the disturbing episode of bringing in millions of readymade garment workers in crowds into Dhaka city and again forcing them to return. The government was also too late in putting restrictions of mass gathering in mosques in particular, although neighboring India and even countries like Saudi Arabia has done that weeks back.
For Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, it is a herculin task to tackle the Covid-19 situation at this stage, when in particular, the country’s intelligence community and a section of the army are silently on purpose sabotaging her entire efforts. The situation would worsen fast due to ongoing activities of Lt Gen Mahfuz and his nexus.
Nirmala Saha is a former stringer of France24.